Angel Fair West Africa: Bringing together investors and entrepreneurs in Lagos, Nigeria

March 30th to 31st, the first Angel Fair West Africa will be held in Lagos, Nigeria: around 100 entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and abroad are invited to come together. The event is organised by the Angel Africa List together with the Lagos Angel Network and the African Venture Capital Association. We had a chance to catch up with Angel Fair Africa organizer and VC4Africa member Eric Osiakwan, Ghanaian entrepreneur and angel investor who is also part of VC4Africa’s advisory board.

How do you look back at last year’s Angel Fair in Johannesburg?

“It was a successful experiment in bringing entrepreneurs and investors together and setting in motion the process for deals, but did not crack the code of instant deals. A manifestation of a nascent industry that would develop over time.”

What are the success stories from this previous event?

“Two of the startups have closed deals and would announce them soon. Four other businesses are in the negotiation process of investments.

Some of the businesses have created partnerships to leverage each other. One of the startups has built leverage for their North American holding company, which is leading to their African expansion. Most of the startups have gotten mentors who are helping them to grow their business and be better position for investment in the near future.

We have successfully created a platform that brings the investors and entrepreneurs together to kick start the process of investment and collaboration. Our collaborative approach builds on existing process like that of VC4Africa, Pivot East, DEMO Africa etcetera to make deals happen.”

How is the journey to the next event, how is it coming together in Lagos?

“Very well, we have a West Africa approach made up of Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana at the core, working on the other countries in the region, for example I was at Cape Verde to participate in the Africa Innovation Summit and also engage the community there. I was in Senegal and got a lot of interest from the entrepreneurs and investors there, at Sankalp in Nairobi, would be in Ivory Coast next. Our partnership with the Lagos Angel Network (LAN) and the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) would ensure that we have strong local and international participation of Angel Investors, Venture Capitalist and the Private Equity communities.”

How will the Angel Fair journey continue? Will there also be an East Africa event, and then yearly events across Africa?

“Given there is Pivot East and DEMO Africa in the East, we are rather in partnership conversation with them instead of duplicating efforts. We are going to have an Angel Fair Africa in Jo’burg again from 20th to 21st August 2014. We would try Angel Fair Central Africa (AFCA) next year if we can build the interest of the local community.”

How do you see the African startup and angel investment landscape changing, what needs to change and what role do you see different actors play?

“All stakeholders need to get better at what they are doing. The opportunity is to make deals happen between the entrepreneurs and investors. The startups are getting better and the angels are becoming more visible, more needs to be done to catalyst deals and hence our events. Angel Africa List focuses on building the community of angels. Incubators and Accelerators are doing a great job in preparing and in some cases funding the startups which gets them ready for investment. VC4Africa does virtual matching of startups and investors, Angel Fair does the physical component. In my view they are complimentary.”

What kinds of developments excite you specifically in West Africa / Nigeria? How do you select the entrepreneurs that will pitch in Lagos?

“The rise of the Nigerian economy is exciting but what’s more exciting is the tech innovation coupled with the rise of the angels. Ghana and Senegal are also moving in exciting dimensions…. For the Lagos event we are focusing on post revenue businesses because we would have angels, venture capital and private equity in the audience.”

What are your tips to entrepreneurs and angel investors in Africa, both in and outside the VC4Africa community?

“Angel investing involves spending time with the entrepreneurs and being part of the business, so one needs to roll up their sleeves and get dirty!”

See an earlier video with Eric Osiakwan on Angel investment in Africa below:

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